What Are The Oldest Photographs in the World - Top 10
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Since the first camera was created in the 11th century, photography has influenced many people as the best way to freeze a moment in time. Technology has made cameras more sophisticated and user-friendly, and pictures are now clearer and sharper.
In addition, photography has allowed us to preserve memories that would have otherwise been lost to the passage of time. In the process, humanity's development from its first actions to significant accomplishments was also documented.
Here are some oldest photos that reveal our story.
Top 10 Oldest Photographs in the World
(Image credit: Harry Ransom Center's Gernsheim Collection)
This image may not look like much, but this is the world's oldest photo, shot in 1826 by Joseph Nicephore Niépce outside a window of his estate at Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France.
Niépce used a pewter plate that was coated in a bitumen and water mixture. Niépce placed the plate inside a camera, and over the course of many hours (possibly two days), the light on the plate that was exposed to architectural details like buildings caused some of the bitumen to harden.
The image was created by washing away the unhardened portions. You can just barely make out the outlines of a building or other architectural feature if you look closely. Niépce coined the term "heliographic" to describe this photographic technique.
1. Louis Daguerre
(Image credit: Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot)
Niépce's invention of heliographic photography resulted in subpar images that were expensive to produce. It wasn't until Niépce and Louis Daguerre collaborated on a more efficient photography technique in the 1830s that silver iodide plates and mercury fumes were used.
The brand-new method was given the name "Daguerretype," in honor of Daguerre. When the novel technique was still being developed, Niépce passed away in 1833. Photograph of Daguerre is shown here.
2. Early image
(Image credit: Société Française de Photographie)
Taken in 1837, this photo showing several plaster casts is one of the earliest images taken by Louis Daguerre using his Daguerretype technique. He kept the technique secret until 1839, when the French government awarded him a lifetime pension in exchange for him revealing how his photos were taken.
3. View from Louis Daguerre's Home
(Image credit: Louis Daguerre)
This image, which was captured in 1838, shows a view that Louis Daguerre captured from his house. Early Daguerreotypes, as the photographs created by Daguerre's methods came to be known, needed a lengthy exposure time, which made it challenging to capture moving subjects or objects. It was also challenging to capture good images in situations with subpar lighting.
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4. Oldest picture of a living person
(Image credit: Louis Daguerre)
Louis Daguerre captured this picture of Paris' Boulevard du Temple in 1838. On the bottom left, if you look closely, you can see a man polishing the boot of another person. Because of the lengthy exposure times at the time this picture was taken, it was impossible to photograph people who moved quickly.
The only subjects who stood still long enough to be captured in the picture were the person getting their boots polished and the polisher. This image is frequently cited as the first to depict a living being.
5. Oldest Selfie?
(Image credit: Robert Cornelius
This self-portrait was captured by American photographer Robert Cornelius in a Philadelphia yard in October 1839. Daguerreotypes at this time required a lengthy exposure time, making it challenging to capture images of people because they had to remain still for so long.
It's likely that Cornelius had to remain motionless for a while while his camera finished taking his picture. This may be the first selfie ever taken.
6. First photo of the moon
(Image credit: William Draper)
One of the earliest moon photographs was taken in 1840 by English scientist and historian John William Draper. The poor quality of this photo demonstrates how challenging it was to take a photo at night in dim lighting at the time. Draper and astronomer William Cranch Bond later produced a daguerreotype of the star Vega, which is a component of the constellation Lyra, in 1850.
7. First photo of sitting president
(Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)
William Henry Harrison, who passed away on April 4, 1841, after serving as president for just 30 days, may have had pneumonia, is depicted in the earliest daguerreotype of a sitting American president. The daguerreotype that was made at the beginning of Harrison's administration is no longer available. Harrison is depicted in this daguerreotype, which was taken in 1850 and features a realistic painted portrait.
8. Oldest surviving photo of U.S. president
(Image credit: Phillip-Haas/Sotheby's Auction House)
This image of John Quincy Adams, the president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, was taken by Philip Haas in March 1843 at his studio in Washington, D.C., after Adams had vacated the office.
Adams allegedly gave the picture to Vermont Rep. Horace Everett, a supporter in Congress. It has only recently surfaced after being reportedly kept by the Everett family.
At the Sotheby's auction in October 2017, this half plate-sized painting, which measures approximately 5 by 4 inches (13 by 10 centimeters), is anticipated to sell for between $150,000 and $250,000.
9. Earliest-known photo of Lincoln
(Image credit: Nicholas H. Shepherd)
Abraham Lincoln can be seen in this 1846–1847 photograph shortly after winning the Illinois congressional election. The 37-year-old Congressman-elect was practicing law in Springfield, Illinois, at the time. Gibson W. Harris, a law student who worked in Lincoln's office from 1845 to 1847, said that the photograph was taken by Nicholas H. Shepherd, according to the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress noted that Robert Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's son, claimed the image was taken in St. Louis or Washington, D.C. Lincoln was elected president in 1861 and steered the country through the Civil War.
10. Early photo of human conflict
(Image credit: Military Archive)
An image from the American-Mexican War depicts general John E. Wool and his staff riding through Saltillo, Mexico, in the early part of 1847 after his troops had taken the city. The conflict, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, was one of the first human conflicts to be photographed.
In the treaty that followed, Mexico gave the United States complete control over California and the region that is now the American southwest after the United States captured Mexico City during the war.
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